Compiled By Traci Purdum Small-business owners plan to add jobs and grow their companies in the next six months, says a recent study by American Express. The survey, OPEN Small Business Network 2003 Semi-Annual Monitor, found that 35% of small-business owners plan to hire full- or part-time staff, up 26% reported last fall. Of those companies, 48% say they plan to add workers to help drive business-volume increases, and 34% are staffing up for new business ventures. "Despite increasing concerns about the overall economic picture, many small-business owners are not shelving their plans for growth and report plans to add jobs and invest in their companies over the next six months," says Kerry Hatch, executive vice president and general manager, OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express. "At the same time, small businesses also appear to be managing their companies through the uncertain economic environment with an eye toward cutting expenses. In fact, the number of small businesses offering health-care coverage fell in the survey to 55% from 61%, reported last fall." The survey, conducted by International Communications Research, queried 781 small-business owners/managers.